Press Secretary Salvador Panelo riding a jeepney to work. Photo: CNN Phil
recent CNN Philippines article noted that presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo “took on the commute challenge sans bodyguards and media coverage after he was dared by several militant groups” to travel from home to work using public transportation.
Panelo left his home in Marikina at 5:15 a.m., according to CNN, and arrived at his Malacaang office at 8:46 a.m. A commute that usually takes the press secretary between 40 minutes to 1.5 hours stretched out to 3 hours and 31 minutes.
Still, Panelo stuck to his Malacaang talking points and insisted that there is no transport crisis in the country. Panelo said he purposely took a less direct route, which accounted for the added time. He also blamed members of the media who eventually caught up with him and hounded him the rest of the way, causing more traffic and delays.
Panelo insisted that the Philippines has no traffic crisis. Conflating crisis with paralysis, he told CNN, “You know when I said there was no crisis, I was referring to paralysis. There is no paralysis in the transport system because we can still get rides.”
While Panelo may be playing fast and loose with words, the sad truth is that millions of Filipinos—from young schoolchildren who miss sleep to get to school on time, to seniors unable to relieve themselves while stuck in traffic—suffer daily from these horribly slow commutes.
One sector that is disproportionally disadvantaged by the traffic crisis is the business community. When the movement of goods and services slow to a crawl, efficiency and profitability go out the window.
The CNN article notes that “According to a study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the country loses ₱3.5 billion daily due to traffic congestion. This could inflate to ₱5.4 billion by 2035 if nothing is done to fix traffic problems.”
While it could get worse, even as it stands today, the Philippines can ill afford to lose ₱3.5 billion each day. Just imagine what that kind of money can be used for. Instead, today, it just all goes to waste. Panelo and his overlords in the palace need to get their act together and fix this problem now. Published 10/11/2019